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126 VERDICT ON INDIA
evidence, but this tizue they came from the Tabala player whose
voice, if possible, was even more raucous than that of the Ancient,
but was mercifully somewhat less powerful.
Meanwhile, the violins were scraping away on the note of A...
nothing bat A, A, A5 in a maddening monotone, as though they
had forgotten themselves and turned into bagpipes. Whatever the
singer did—and there wasn't much that he didn't—the- violins
kept on A. There was a terrible temptation to shout 'Come off
it! Come unstuck—try A sharp, A flat, B, C, anything ! * However,
after a few moments it did not matter so much, for the drums
came in and throbbed with such ferocity that they threatened
to drown everything else.
On and on went the drums and the violins and the cattle noises ;
a glance at the clock showed that it was nearly a quarter of an
hour since the devil had entered into the throat of the Tabala
player, and judging from the look on his face it would be a very
long time before he would be dispossessed.
Something must be done, and done quickly, or there would be
a scene; I should ho^l or go berserk; and then there would ba
international complications, royal dungeons and all manner of
Fortunately, at that moment, I had an idea. But before we
mention what it was the reader must pardon yet another diversion.
If he is bored by the discussion of aesthetic theory he can skip
the section, that follows.
First, a word in self-defence.
My irritation at the surrounding uproar was not merely a
nervous reaction to the cheer blast of noise, nor was it in any
way the result of complacency or superiority. Very much to the
It was due to a disagreeable suspicion that the root of all the^
trouble was not in the music but in myself*
It seemed impossible to believe that the music could be as fright-